The United States doesn’t do a lot of things that a lot of other countries do. We don’t have mandatory paid maternity leave or guaranteed healthcare. We also don’t have coding as an integral part of school curriculum. Many countries in the EU have already implemented coding into their schools nationwide, and for good reason. In the age of the Internet, the ability to code is becoming much more practical. President Obama has recently set a “Computer Science For All” initiative, allocating $4 billion to schools nationwide, in an effort to get the skill of coding out there in the mainstream of American teaching.
I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I am a huge fan of computer science though. Objectively speaking, it is and will be an extremely useful and practical skill that much of the global workforce would benefit from. However, I remember taking an Intro to Computer Science class in my sophomore year of high school… it was awful. I don’t exactly know what it was, but I just could not get into it. Maybe it was because the mathematics department at my school had just introduced the class that year, and maybe it was also because the teacher was just horrible. I don’t know exactly. I think it’s fair to say that there were a multitude of reasons that made me dislike computer science. So, even though I applaud President Obama for starting this initiative and I recognize the importance of coding in general, in the back of my mind I’m still thinking about that shitty comp sci class.
This analogy has been made before, but I see coding as something like a foreign language. Yeah, we use English words in the construction of code, but we use it in a format that is so different and odd that it you can’t understand what is going on unless you are fluent in code: just like another language. When I look at a sentence written in Russian, all I see is English words with funny reversed letters here and there. When I see a sentence written in Japanese, I see neatly arranged lines and curves. When I and virtually everyone else look a a line of code, we probably see it as an incoherent jumble of words and punctuation.
Even though I compared coding to a foreign language, I still think it’s a little different from something like Spanish or Portuguese, in that it is way more practical. Generally speaking, I don’t think many high school students are consistently using the language they learned in their world language classes in the workplace or even at home. Coding is something that you can practice both in a specified field of work as well as in the privacy of your home with a computer. A world in which everyone knew how to code would lead to more innovation and more flexibility in the American workforce. If coding were a standard in American education, the next big smartphone app or the newest operating system. I wholeheartedly agree with the notion that coding is a necessary skill and should be treated as such by American education administrators.
In The Matrix, code is quite literally the foundation of the titular virtual world